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A Site Selection Web Exclusive, October 2014
WEB Exclusive story
by Adam Bruns

Life Science Leader magazine in September offered valuable insights into today's re-engineered global pharma supply chain.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers MoneyTree Report for Q2 of 2014 identified venture capital deals in the San Diego region, with biotech accounting for nearly $146 million of the $222 million invested. According to the San Diego Regional EDC's research department, three biotech deals accounted for more than half of that total: "Otonomy Inc., who has received several major deals in the past year, received another $49 million in early stage funds. Verdezyne, Inc received $48 million in later stage funds and Cidara Therapeutics received $32 million in early stage funds."

As for California as a whole, if you haven’t yet seen the eight-page 2014 California Biomedical Industry Report from the California Healthcare Institute, it’s worth the time investment to get a snappy read on the state’s life sciences sector, whose 2,490 companies saw $96 billion in revenue in 2012. Among its findings: In 2013, California academics were expected to receive National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants exceeding $3 billion, far and away leading the nation.

The NIH continues to grant those grants, this week announcing an initial investment of nearly $32 million in fiscal year 2014 by NIH's Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative, a program to develop new strategies for increasingly complex biomedical data sets which is projected to have a total investment of nearly $656 million through 2020, pending available funds. The initial grants go to 12 multi-institute centers, each of which is tackling a specific data science challenge. “NIH's effort is being developed in the context of a number of related projects elsewhere in the world,” said the NIH, “including those under development in the United Kingdom and Australia, and by the European Union.”

Also this week, the NIH awarded the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) three new grants totaling nearly $5.2 million to fund research initiatives in cancer, influenza and lupus. "These are three important, Oklahoma-grown ideas with disease relevance, so this is a tremendous achievement for us," said OMRF Vice President of Research Paul Kincade, Ph.D. "The grants represent fresh ideas that our scientists have developed over the past few years." He said the grants show the quality of biomedical research in the state. "Our competition for these funds includes Stanford, Harvard and other major institutions around the U.S.," he said. "So to successfully compete for these awards is a big deal."

Among the grant recipients at OMRF is Susan Kovats, Ph.D., who received a four-year, $1.7-million grant to study how dendritic cells in the lungs react to the influenza virus, an illness that kills an estimated 23,000 Americans each year. Her findings may help steer the development of new vaccine strategies.
Photo courtesy of OMRF

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in late September released the first batch of data from its new Open Payments database, in the interest of greater transparency concerning physicians’ ties to industry. But doctors didn’t get much time for review, and a lot of data is missing. For a clearer look, ProPublica and its Dollars For Docs reporting are still the go-to resources.

The three-story, 315,000-sq.-ft. building that serves as the HQ for Express Scripts is situated on approximately 13 acres of land on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis (pictured here in a 2005 photo), where the company announced in 2005 it would build its headquarters, and in 2010 announced plans for a fourth building.

Los Angeles–based National Asset Services (NAS) announced this week that it had successfully led a large group of tenant-in-common co-owners of 8555 University Place in St. Louis, Mo. — headquarters for pharmacy benefit plan firm Express Scripts — through a multi-tiered process that resulted in a new property ownership structure and very favorable refinancing terms of a $45-million loan. “Due to NAS' specialized leadership,” said the firm, “investors were able to avoid maturity default as well as maximize investment performance due to more favorable capital terms.

“The positive outcome for the property was achieved by leading co-owners and investors through an innovative strategy that involved reorganizing and consolidating the group of 31 tenant-in-common co-owners and an additional 77 investors into a new limited liability company,” NAS explained. “The formation of the newly created company enabled ownership to take advantage of an IRS code that enabled the contribution of the property to the new ownership entity with realizing a gain or loss. The newly created company then became the Borrower under a new loan provided by an undisclosed lender.”

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) this week released a new report, “Researching Cancer Medicines: Setbacks and Stepping Stones,” which highlights the number of investigational cancer medicines that did not succeed in clinical trials and how these so-called “failures” are a critical part of the drug development process. According to another new report by PhRMA, there are 771 cancer medicines and vaccines either in clinical trials or awaiting review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Of these medicines, more than 50 are for the treatment of melanoma, 98 for lung cancer and 47 for brain cancer.

“While it may sound counterintuitive, research setbacks are instrumental to furthering efforts to better understand a disease and how to treat it. They are also an indication of the incredible difficulty in developing medicines to treat cancer,” said PhRMA President and CEO John J. Castellani.


The ultimate champion of cancer research is the National Cancer Institute. This week NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, announced that The JBG Companies won its 2014 Sustainable Development Award for the company's development of new offices (pictured) for the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Md. "The 574,614-sq.-ft. workplace emphasizes employee well-being and productivity," said NAIOP. "The Institute features greenery-filled interiors, wall panels of live plants, external natural landscapes, fitness trails and free shuttle service to nearby transit. LEED-certified, NCI utilizes the latest energy monitoring, demand-side management techniques and active utility rebates benchmarking."

"We are honored that NAIOP recognized JBG and the NCI campus with its annual sustainable development award," said Greg Trimmer, a principal at The JBG Companies. "We take sustainable development very seriously and found the perfect partner in NCI which shares our commitment to building healthy, green work environments."

Photos courtesy of JBG

New Orleans biomedical company Renaissance Rx has announced a 425-job expansion and new headquarters in the CBD of New Orleans. Founded in 2012 with five employees at the New Orleans BioInnovation Center, Renaissance Rx now employs more than 800 across the country. The firm provides pharmacogenetic testing revealing how individual patients respond to specific medications, based upon their genetic makeup. A partnership of Louisiana Economic Development, Greater New Orleans, Inc., the New Orleans Business Alliance, and the New Orleans BioInnovation Center all worked with Renaissance Rx on the expansion.

“Over the next decade, personalized medicine will be common practice,” said Dr. Tarun Jolly, the Renaissance RX founder, physician and CEO. “We will live in a world where virtually all healthcare decisions will consider a person’s genetics, and we are setting out to position New Orleans as the center for molecular excellence.”

Adam Bruns
Managing Editor of Site Selection magazine

Adam Bruns

Adam Bruns has served as managing editor of Site Selection magazine since February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.


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